• Marty Sullivan II

Makeup Artist Aniyah Smith talks about Makeup as an Art Form

Painting on a canvas is an art form. Even graffiti painted on a wall can be considered an art form. But what could it be called for those who paint on their face? Well for makeup artists, it is just another art form created for themselves and others to enjoy. Makeup artists all over social media are showing their artistic talents as they transform their faces into works of art.

Makeup artists use their photos and videos on Instagram and TikTok to share their looks with others and also help create a more diverse and inclusive beauty industry.

“More recently, Beauty brands have really depended on social media influencers to get the word out on new product launches and show consumers how to use those products while providing real-time reviews and feedback,” said Aja Renaye, Cosmetics & Fragrance Marketing graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Aniyah Smith is one of the many makeup artists using her platform to share her skills and new products with her followers. She is a recent graduate from the Cosmetics & Fragrance Marketing program at FIT and now a master’s candidate concentrating in Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Northeastern University. Aniyah is also starting a beauty venture called, Push Beauty.

Photo by Aniyah Smith | @aniyah.s

How did you get your start in makeup?

I was around 14, and my first makeup purchases were blue and purple liquid eyeliners from Sephora. I wore them with no mascara, no complexion product. Just blue liner and vibes! But I started to really wear it around 16 when I started to understand all the products that make a face. I remember asking my mom for the Anastasia Beverly Hills contour kit because “that’s how Keke Palmer gets her cheekbones.” I made my first YouTube video senior year of high school, and I’ve just been diving deeper and evolving since then.

What was the connection that made you pursue a degree in Cosmetics & Fragrance marketing?

I started getting into complexion products and realized there was this lack of diversity and representation in the beauty world, and it was hard to find good products that worked for me. So, I made the decision right then that if I couldn’t buy the products I needed for me, I would just have to make them. As I was researching how the beauty founders at the time got their start, I realized marketing was the key to anything, and then soon after I found FIT’s major, and was so excited to learn. I recently went back through my old projects and realized how amazing that program was and how much I enjoyed being able to learn the business of beauty and fragrance from so many angles.

How would you define your makeup as an art form?

I would define my makeup as wearable editorial. It’s not too heavy that it’s just for pictures, but it’s a step up from your everyday look. I used to paint a lot and the use of colors and how they blend was always so fun for me, so I try to bring that into my looks when I can.

Photo by Aniyah Smith | @aniyah.s

When would you consider the start of your makeup social media platform?

I would say the true start was around sophomore year in college (2017-2018). I had been creating content before then, but at this point, I started to learn the importance of a curated feed, or how to take pictures that fit my brand over what looked like everyone else’s at the time. I really dived into analytics and lighting and began to really build a brand around myself.

What made you want to start sharing your work and art with others through social media?

I started sharing when I realized I’d seen all these other influencers living the lives they depicted on Instagram, and I was so amazed that their lives were spent creating! Once I got into it, I realized that making content is simply another way for me to create things, stitch them together, or try new ways of editing. I’m motivated by the audience that tells me how much they love my looks or applied to the same program as me at FIT, or they bought something because of me. It feels good.

How have you grown as an artist and creative by showcasing your work and content?

I’ve grown a lot emotionally. I used to be really affected by likes or watching other people accomplish things before me. But I think I’ve learned the value of being in my own lane and defining my own success and celebrating my accomplishments even if no one else deems it that. I’ve also grown as an artist understanding that not posting or creating every day does not change my value, but my brain needs rest to really continue creating and being innovative and bringing the content people love.

How do you and other MUA foster community in the world of makeup?

Artists – I think we try to move our conversations past makeup and really build a personality online. You want your followers to think of you as a friend, and some of them end up being friends which is always cool. Community is just really important because beauty, especially online, can be extremely unfriendly sometimes.

What does an inclusive & diverse makeup community look like to you?

To me, it means no one is stuck on the outside looking in. Anyone from any background, race, gender, can walk into a store and find something that makes them feel good, or see some aspect of themselves in the marketing materials. I didn’t have that, and I want that for the generations coming in.

How do you help the beauty industry become more diverse & inclusive?

I try to uplift creators of color and brands with founders of color. I definitely work more behind the scenes, emailing brands to ask about their diversity efforts, and advocating for equal pay for creators of color. I’m actually doing a beauty zine next month, highlighting the impact of black culture on beauty and vice versa and involving a number of black writers and creators. Sometimes just giving people a defined space to be themselves and create is a great place to start.

When talking about creating inclusive products, Aja, who is also a product developer at Bath & Body Works stated, “It can be tricky at times because it’s such a large enterprise and there are many levels of leadership that have to sign off on products. No matter what product and/or fragrance I’m working on I always make sure that I’m vocal and push to evaluate the product on different skin tones, different races, and different genders.”

Photo by Aja Renaye | @ajarenaye

Photo by Nancy Pramanand | @nancypramanand

Photo by Mariah Alvira | @mariahalysemakeup


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